Some Occupy Tampa members get more lenient arraignment hearings than others listen12/22/11 Janelle Irwin
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Twenty-nine Occupy Tampa protesters were arrested on the morning of December 2 for trespassing in Riverfront Park. This week most people in that group are being arraigned on those charges. On Monday one judge revoked bond for a protester with repeat offenses. But this morning another judge imposed a lesser penalty on a different protester facing similar charges.
Dylan Wallis was charged with trespassing and resisting arrest without violence while attempting an overnight occupation of Riverfront Park. But because he had a previous charge for obstruction he risked having his bond revoked and put in jail until a trial. The judge said he would not revoke Wallisâ€™ bond if he pleaded no contest to the obstruction charge. Wallisâ€™ did, but upheld his innocence in the trespassing charge.
â€œIâ€™m more satisfied than going to jail for three months, but I would have rather pled not guilty to both charges. I feel like the state attorney is out to get us.â€
Earlier this week another Occupy protester, Tim Sommers, was put in jail following his arraignment. Judge James Dominguez revoked Sommersâ€™ bond because he had previously bonded out on another charge and was then re-arrested on December 2. Sommers faces jail time for up to three months while he awaits trial. However Dylan Wallis was spared that same fate by Judge Richard Weis even though he also was re-arrested.
â€œI guess I really feel like itâ€™s just the luck of the draw with the judge and the decisions he makes because it looks like the state attorney is out to send us all to jail, but if the judge is not in on that completely than you have a chance to make a better deal than that.â€
Sommers had another hearing this afternoon. Occupy Tampaâ€™s Andrew â€œPepeâ€ Kovanis hopes encouragement from the community will hasten Sommersâ€™ release.
â€œI think over the past couple of days, the community who supports Occupy Tampa and who supports Tim Sommers has put a little bit of pressure on Judge Dominguez â€“ phone calls, letters, emails, I know theyâ€™ve called the state attorneyâ€™s office. Iâ€™m anticipating that pressure pays off and maybe they will grant Tim Sommers a bond or maybe they will release him outright. Weâ€™ll see at 1:30 today.â€
Another Occupy protester, Daiquiri Jones, was scheduled to appear in court today. Jones has been arrested 5 times while supporting the occupy movement. Occupy Tampaâ€™s Derek English spoke with Jonesâ€™ attorney following his arraignment this morning.
"From what I understand his bond was revoked. He has to appear in court at 1:30 for whatever the process is â€“ them taking him into custody â€“ Iâ€™m not sure what the process is exactly. I know Daiquiri right now â€“ I donâ€™t know where Daiquiri is right now. He does have to appear in the courtroom today at 1:30."
The outcomes for the 29 Occupy Tampa protesters who were arrested earlier this month have varied. Many were initially charged with resisting arrest without violence. Some have had those charges dropped, others have not. Most Occupy Tampa supporters who were arraigned this week will have trials during the week of February 20.